NORMATIVE ETHICAL THEORIES
PHIL 333, Assignment 1
One main issue question pertaining to professional ethics stands out in this case: Was the doctor justified in trying an experimental treatment on Ms. Kay’s dog Sandy even though she had decided against it and asked that the dog be euthanized? In analyzing this case and the ethical issue presented, I would use two normative ethical theories – Rule utilitarianism and Kantian deontological ethics.
Rule utilitarianism states that the morally right action is one that is in accordance with a moral rule which general observance would create the most happiness. It evaluates a consequence as if it will be later replicated in the future. Rule utilitarianism does not evaluate individual actions separately, but supports rules whose acceptance maximizes utility. In this case, it will be evaluated whether performing such a risky experimental treatment on Sandy without the consent of Ms. Kay is in accordance with the rule. The rule that would apply in this situation will be for Dr Cee to only perform the experimental treatment if Ms. Kay consents to it. Professional ethical rules are rules that comply with professional ethics such as administering treatments to patients according to their guidance will, or legal decision makers. As such, I would say that Dr Cee’s action does not comply with this rule. Medical professionals are not allowed to undergo such procedures without a signed consent from the patient, or the legal decision maker. Rules that apply in accordance with professional ethics, generally promote over all happiness in accordance with rule utilitarianism even if the end result is not positive or good. Even though Sandy was free from all symptoms after the experimental treatment, but if such action will be later replicated in the future, then it will be a concern of trust. People will not feel comfortable to take their dogs to Veterinarians in fear that experimental treatments will be conducted on them in the same manner. This will result to too many sick dogs in the society, and in the long run will lead to higher medical expenses. Based on this case, rule utilitarianism would judge that Dr Cee shouldn’t have done it because it wasn’t Ms. Kay’s wish for Sandy to undergo such a lengthy and uncomfortable treatment – as described in case 2.2. As such rule utilitarianism is showing that Dr Cee’s act is unethical and will not maximize over all happiness in the long run.
I do not think that rule utilitarianism prescribes a solution to this case, but it offers some insights about the nature of morality, and the principle of impartiality as an essential part of moral decision making. I would think that if Dr Cee had opened up to Ms. Kay on how he felt about the experimental treatment even though ninety- five percent of the previous ones conducted in the lab failed, she might have reasoned with him to consent to the treatment. In this way, irrespective of the outcome, it will lead to overall...